South Australian public schools are getting a brand new policy for transgender and intersex students, bringing equality to their bathroom policy.
This policy will allow students to be called by their chosen name and also wear the uniform which coincides with their gender identity. Following 2016, where transgender people and their rights very much came under attack in several places, this policy is definitely most welcome.
Education Department spokesperson Ann-Marie Hayes said that this policy was very much needed, and also said that it would benefit all students, not just those who are transgender or intersex.
She said: “We’re just ensuring that our schools and particularly our principals, our school counsellors and our parents understand that there are particular ways that they can enact this policy and procedure. It actually supports the students and the families.”
Miss Hayes also said that this new inclusive policy is mandatory for all public schools in South Australia. She also expressed that she expected the policy to go down well with both students and families.
“We often find that students are really welcoming of this, and parents and principals, and really that’s where the policy started. We have always had these procedures if you like, but we didn’t have them in one place which was a consistent approach and so we had queries from parents and queries from principals.”
According to the policy from the Education Department, policy regarding the use of bathrooms and changing rooms should be made “in consultation” with both students and families, with the “primary consideration” being reserved for safety and wellbeing.
There have also been revisions made for trans and intersex students’ accommodations, both at school camps and on excursions.
The policy document states: “The ideal situation will be for a student to access sleeping quarters that correspond to the student’s gender identity if they choose. If this is not possible or appropriate then private or separate sleeping quarters can be considered.”
As for independent schools, there will not be a universal policy implemented and it will instead be left for the schools to judge on a case by case basis.
Carolyn Grantskalns from the Independent Schools Association said: “Because every child is different and every transgender child is different. In our sector, each school will develop its own approach and on the whole they would work with the individual student and that student’s family and the broader school community.”